Map Out A Timeline For Your Commercial Real Estate Book

Map Out A Timeline For Your Commercial Real Estate Book

One of the most common questions I receive about my book, “The Insider’s Edge to Real Estate Investing,” is, “How long did it take?” If you’re interested in publishing a book on commercial real estate, you may already be aware that producing a book takes a substantial commitment. There are many steps to cover, ranging from choosing a topic to finding a way to publish it and marketing the book. The actual writing can be lengthy too.

To get an idea of how long the process will take, it can be helpful to look at an estimated timeline. As you read through the following, remember that the exact number of hours you’ll need will vary. It may depend on your writing experience, who you’re working with, and what dates your publisher would like to use. If you go with a traditional publisher, the timeline could be much longer than if you self-publish.

In the following sections, I’ll share the timeline for my book, which may help you get a sense of what to expect for your own work.

1. The Idea Phase

Before you begin writing, you’ll want to understand your book’s purpose. Think about what topics it will cover, the themes it will portray, and how it will help readers. This stage could take as little as an afternoon, or it could last much longer. In my case, for years I had others asking for book recommendations and resources to help them learn about investing in commercial real estate. I couldn’t find any that fit what I had in mind, so I decided to put together my own.

2. Planning and Outlining

Writing down some of your thoughts and brainstorming what your book will cover might take several hours, or it could require days or even weeks. I found that during the pandemic, my routine changed, and I had some extra hours to commit toward a different project. I started a podcast, and that led to the beginnings of a book. I gathered initial material and a rough outline of what the chapters would discuss.

3. Pitching the Book

Putting together a book proposal and query letter, and then sending them to agents and publishers, might take months. It could take several weeks to get responses too. For my book, I connected with an agency in the summer of 2021, which put me in touch with a writing partner and editor to help with the book proposal and query letter. During the fall of that year, we connected with a publisher and several months later formed a publishing agreement.

If you self-publish, you may skip this step, as you’ll be in control of the publishing agreement. That said, you might want to pitch the book to others in your circles and build an audience. Those who are interested might want to buy it later when it comes out.

4. Drafting the Manuscript

If you’re familiar with a topic and have time to write every day, you could create a manuscript in less than a year. In some instances, the research required could prolong this step, and it’s not uncommon for books to take more than a year to develop. For my book, the initial draft was created in six months. My writing partner Rachel Hartman interviewed me on my podcast to gather material, which allowed listeners to gain insight and learn about the book before it was published.

5. The Editing Phase

A manuscript typically undergoes several rounds of edits, and this stage can take a couple of months or longer, depending on the number of revisions needed. You may hear of a developmental edit, which focuses on the overall organization and structure of the book. There are also line editing tasks to improve flow and clarity. Copyediting and proofreading help remove spelling mistakes and punctuation errors. For my book, the editing rounds took nearly five months. For self-publishing, you’ll want to hire an editor, which can take a couple of months.

6. Publication Date and Beyond

Often when you work with a publisher, a day will be set for the book to be published. The process of writing and editing are managed to align with the publication date. Due to the time needed for the printing to take place, and for books to be distributed, publishers often work with dates that are far ahead. You might sign a contract for your book, and then see your first copy a year or more later. In my case, the book was released about three months after the editing rounds finished. Again in self-publishing, this step could be faster, and you might have copies within just a few week.

7. Marketing the Book

While you may start this step at any point in the process, you’ll likely continue it after the book is published. You can take your book to conferences where you speak, or hand it to clients at networking events. It could become part of your overall brand, especially if it covers a topic that is helpful to those who connect with you.

As you can see, the timeline of a book can be anywhere from less than a year to two years or longer. From the initial proposal to the actual publication date of my book, the process took about 18 months. You may find you need more time, based on the research you want to carry out or other commitments you have. In most cases, the key is to keep moving forward, as each step will bring you closer to getting your book onto the shelves of retailers and into the hands of readers.